Frank Klepacki has worked on titles for top publishers in the video game industry for over 21 years. He is the Audio Director, Composer, and Sound Designer for PETROGLYPH, having worked on titles there such as Star Wars Empire at War, and overseeing, implementing, and content creating for all audio aspects of the End of Nations project. Had worked at Westwood Studios for 12 years having composed for projects such as Command & Conquer, Blade Runner, Dune 2, and The Lion King just to name a few.

Comments: 1028 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

andaai266 karma

Did you ever think when you composed Hell March that it would become such a recognizable anthem for gamers

rocktronic303 karma

Nope. sure didn't. I just thought it was a cool metal tune to have in the game. It blew me away when it got the resounding response it got, and the fact people still talk about it today is just amazing and I'm so grateful!

Maiuchan79 karma

I have several of your songs on my iPod to this day. Hell March is on my work playlist. Thanks for being such an inspirational part of my childhood!

rocktronic97 karma

Happy and flattered to have been an inspiration, thank you!

FOOGEE7 karma

Quick question. What does the voice at the beginning of the song say? Many a childhood argument would happen over disagreements to the contents of those lyrics.

It's always been heard in my circle as "Mace Power", "Ace Power", "Heat shower, yikes", "Eat powder", "Green Power" among other things.

Now that I am older, I realize it's probably German, but an answer to this question would be legendary to me and my friends.

phlap13 karma

"Die Waffen, Legt An."

I think.

rocktronic14 karma


[deleted]7 karma

Every time I tune my guitar to drop D I have to play that riff - it's one of those "simple but amazing" riffs. I love it!

rocktronic7 karma


tsarcorp184 karma

No questions.

Thanks from the entire community of metal head RTS fans. Hell March is the theme tune for our childhoods and It inspired a lot of my friends to pick up a guitar.

rocktronic111 karma

Kick ass! Thanks!

Meakis67 karma

FRANK! I love your work in the command & conquer series! Made me buy the music tracks of red allert 3.

rocktronic65 karma

Thank you so much!

xforever131353 karma

Hi Frank, first I want to say I am a big fan of your work and music.

My questions are:

What is the favorite song you've written, and what soundtrack did you enjoy working on the most?

rocktronic74 karma

That is always the hardest question to answer! When you've written a thousand songs in your career, you can understand why that would be a little tough to narrow down, hehe. I have multiple favorites: Hell March (Red Alert), Got A Present For ya (Renegade), Divine Intervention (Universe At War), DogFight (Renagade), Zann Consortium Theme (Star Wars Forces OF Corruption), Prepare For Battle (Command & Conquer). I know there are others too. I would have to say Star Wars was my favorite to work on from a fan standpoint, as far as a completely original soundtrack goes, End Of Nations for sure. I think its some of my best work to date.

elcd29 karma

Have to say one of my favorite game tunes of all time is Act on Instinct.

Quick question though mate, I remember seeing a preview/trailer for CNC: Tib Sun, pretty sure it was included with Dune 2000 back in the day, and it had a track that I was never able to find following that.

Do you have any idea of the tune I'm referring to? I don't remember it actually shipping with Tiberian Sun.

rocktronic49 karma

I remember doing an early demo track of the song "Stomp" that was used in a TS trailer before it was completed and later used in C&C Renegade. maybe thats it.

xmagneticx18 karma

Loved Renegade.. Wish there had been more done with this game

helly12237 karma

You should check out this project called renegade-x they are doing a standalone multiplayer game on the udk that clones renegade gameplay. Ive been following it for a few years, the project has some talent and dedication behind it.

rocktronic18 karma

I've been long familiar with those guys - they are no joke! Renegade x is a great example of what a great mod team can do!

Cybertification49 karma

What is your favourite Command & conquer game?

rocktronic144 karma

I remember having the most fun with Yuris Revenge (RA2 expnasion) and Firestorm (TS expansion). But also the original. That really felt new and special when we were working on it.

dalek_99962 karma

My husband says You're Welcome for Yuri's Revenge.

rocktronic79 karma


TheCollective0159 karma

I beta tested Yuri's Revenge (former Westwood employee here) :P

belgianguy33 karma

When after installing a game you saw that big green W in a blue electrical orb, you knew you were about to have lots of fun.

My ever-lasting gratitude to one of the greatest game studios I have ever laid eyes upon, I started with the little known Dune 2000, which was the first PC game I ever bought after I played Dune 2 at my dad's workplace. Then Tiberian Sun (and its expansion) and Red Alert 2 (and its expansion) brought me into the world of game modding (FinalSun/FinalAlert), which inspired me so much I took up CS. Now, as a MsC in CS, I still look back to those olden goldies and wonder how you guys ever pulled it off. It all worked so well together, the atmosphere, the gameplay, the graphics, the cutscenes, especially given the rather limited hardware specs from back in the day!

If I'm not the only one, I'd like a Westwood AMA, how did it start, what did the offices look like, how were the teams structured, what were some key moments in its existance, etc...

Westwood defined RTS.

TheCollective0166 karma

I worked there between 2000 and 2002, right up to the end when they laid off all 250+ employees at the main branch (they did keep the Westwood Irvine branch open a bit longer; I think C&C Generals was the result of this if I'm not mistaken). I had just graduated high school in 1999, and I had no experience in the industry. I remember passing in front of Westwood's offices almost every day (they were right down the street from Cimmarron High School where a lot of my friends went) and thinking to myself "Man, I wish I worked there". Well, I was working at Olive Garden at the time, but I was really sick of it, and almost on a lark, went and applied at Westwood. I somehow got the job and quit Olive Garden that day :P

I came in on the test cycle of Emperor: Battle for Dune. The one thing I remember the most is how hard we worked on it. It was very buggy, and we did 6 months of straight testing, including 3 months of crunch time. At one point, we were working 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week to make sure we didn't release a buggy product to the public. After that, we moved on to C&C Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge (I did a little testing on C&C Red Alert 2 prior to that). It was great fun, playing the hell out of the game, using every unit against every other unit, doing every thing we could to break the game and catch the bugs. Then when Yuri's Revenge released, we moved on to C&C: Renegade. This was also a lot of fun; in fact beta testing an FPS is more fun than RTS because you just play the hell out of the game any which way you can trying to break it, find areas in the walls where you get stuck, use every weapon against every enemy, explore every area, etc (using developers tools so you had God mode, weapons codes, etc.). A few months into the test cycle I actually got promoted to the design team; I worked in a QA capacity directly with the designers and helped out on some multi-player map design.

I do remember the one fateful day I came into work and they gathered the whole QA department up in the office and basically announced that the company had been bought out by EA and we were all getting laid off, with unemployment benefits and a small severance package. I don't know about anybody else, but I had no idea this was going to happen; it was a complete surprise. It felt like the rug had been yanked out from under me. I remember feeling pretty lost and had no idea what I was going to do after that. It was an awesome job.

The offices were really cool. There was Westwood merchandize/posters everywhere, and there was a lot of activity between the departments. We had really cool employee outings; we went and saw movies as a company (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, movies like that). We would have a big employee lunch/BBQ type thing at least every month or so, and we'd always get catered lunches at least a couple of times a week. Walking the halls, you would always run into someone really cool, like Joe Kucan (Kane), Mike Legg (current president of Petroglyph), Lewis Castle (co-founder) and of course Frank Klepacki. It definitely felt like a family. The studio where they filmed many of the cut-scenes was in a big building off the main offices and that was always cool to visit because there was always something going on there. A lot of my co-workers had bit parts in the cut scenes, and I even did some voice acting (unit death screams) that made it into Emperor: Battle for Dune.

It was definitely the best job I've ever had, and I miss the hell out of it. Feels good to revisit those days in this comment :P

joeyfettuccine5 karma

What units' death scream were you? Emperor was one of my favorites.

TheCollective015 karma

Haha, wouldn't be able to say for sure. When I went in to record my parts, they handed me a piece of paper with a couple short scenarios written on it to help me "get in character"...there were descriptions like:

"You are filling your car up with gas when you notice there is a leak in the hose and a puddle is forming under your feet. You look up and watch as someone flicks a cigarette in slow motion into the puddle. Make the sound you would make as your flesh is seared from your body"


"You get in a fight with a man wielding a knife. He stabs you in the belly, and then twists the knife into your organs. Make the sound you would make as your entrails wrap around the knife."

It was fucking awesome and gruesome! Not sure who wrote those, but whoever did had quite an imagination (might have even been Frank; he's the one who recorded us! Maybe he could verify, hehe). So if a unit sounds like he's getting burned to death or having a knife twisted in his guts, that's probably me :P

rocktronic6 karma

hehe those descriptions are awesome, I didn't write em, but I did my share of death screams too.

Speaking of Emperor, I actually came up with the Ordos translator language in the cutscenes you hear behind the dialog. That was pretty crazy.

fnljstce49 karma

The original C&C soundtrack is, in my opinion, the coolest sounding ost ever. In the song "Target", where did the line "I'm a mechanical man" come from; did you just pull it out from nowhere, did something inspire it, or was it an existing sound byte that you decided to use? It's just so damn catchy!

Edit: This song, for those that are

rocktronic53 karma

Hehe, I heard that said somewhere, and though it was cool, so I recorded myself saying it and put it in the song. It was inspired by the idea of piloting a mech. ;)

opethfan42 karma

Sir, Act on Instinct was one of the first songs from a game soundtrack that I ever chose to listen to outside of the game.

And for that, I thank you.

rocktronic40 karma

Much appreciated! Keep rockin!

red_keshik28 karma

I've always wondered how you got started with Westwood, C&C was the first game whose soundtrack I actually took notice of (Airstrike is still my favourite)

rocktronic37 karma

Thanks! I started as a game tester over summer before my last year of high school. I reapplied for the audio department when I graduated.

Sojoez24 karma

Hi Frank. First, I'd like to thank you for this. It was one of the best concerts I've seen.

Now for the question. Lately I've been listening to Rammstein and I've noticed some similarities in the music style. Are they of influence to your music or is it just a coincidence? Also, after wondering for 10+ years. What is being said in Hell March 1? All I hear is 3,4,5 (in english) "Geef acht" (dutch for 'stand attention')

rocktronic49 karma

Awesome! Games In Concert did rock! Loved being there, and for the record, best version of Hell March 3 in my opinion. ;) Live it had so much more punch.

Yes I've been influenced by some of Rammsteins music, absolutley.

The phrase is German "Die waffen, legt an" roughly translates "Ready weapons"

Ianuario23 karma

Do you/your staff use any DAWs in your music production? What software is involved in soundtracks like C&C or End of Nations?

rocktronic42 karma

I have always used Cubase since it first appeared on the PC! So every game soundtrack I've ever worked on since then has been done with Cubase in all it's versions over the years, all the C&C's up til now.

Ianuario13 karma

What's your professional opinion on fl studio and ableton then? And is cubase an easy software to start producing on? (Sorry for going into such depth on a software-specific issue like this)

rocktronic32 karma

Well Abelton is a whole other kind of thing geared more for live use. FL has similarities, but I''ve always prefered the layout and format of how Cubase does things personally. DAW layout and interface though is user subjective. If you're considering trying it out, download a trial demo and see how it feels to you, read up on getting started, and take it from there. THats the best way to know what fits your preference.

Myll_Erik23 karma

Favorite locale which you have worked? (Country?)

rocktronic62 karma

I really enjoyed my trip the Netherlands when I performed for Games In Concert there with the Metropole Orchestra.

japzz6 karma

I can't believe I missed that! I hope you'll visit The Netherlands again some time :)

sike865 karma

Yeah, can't believe I missed it. Come back to Holland, it is awesome here!

rocktronic4 karma

Would gladly return, when the right opportunity surfaces!

DKTim23 karma

Hi Frank!

I love your work, and I am a huge fan of Renegade.

What was working at Westwood like? did Joseph Kucan really get the job as Kane from a 7-11 lottery/raffle?

I am sure you are aware, but Top Gear used Hell March in one of their episodes, I was blown away when I heard it.

Lastly, if you still have any ties with EA, you should ask them to release Renegade free for download like they with the early C&C games, and hand over any and all Renegade 2 stuff they have lying around. I am sure the community will be more than willing to take it over.

rocktronic134 karma

Working at Westwood was like a big family, great place to work and had a fun company culture, loved my time there.

No Joe didn't get the gig from a lottery, but he just sees it that way. You see, one day going into work, there was a deli next door, and Joe was sleeping right next to it, homeless, picking up scraps from whoever left the deli. One day the artists neeed a live male nude model to reference for 3d modeling. So they offered Joe a quick paying gig to nude model for a couple of hours so they could get all angles captured and translate it to the 3d tests. He just kept coming back and wouldn't leave, he kept offering to clean the office, the bathrooms, and they kept paying him because they felt bad. Then one day our receptionist went into labor unexpectedly in the lobby, and Joe without hesitation ran to help her and actually delivered her baby. We were in shock and he was the hero of the day. So then finally someone asked what his resume was, and sure enough we learned he was a former contestant on Star Search, which is a talent show that was popular in the 80's, but he lost his final round as a comedian and had struggled ever since, working odd jobs in truck stops and t-shirt wholesalers and the like. We hadn't considered the part of Kane yet, but they were shooting test footage the next day and Joe was helping set up the camera when it had come loose from the tripod and fell on his head. Cursing up a storm, he lunged it back on the tripod yelling at it for a good minute, and hit it a couple times before getting it out of his system and apologizing, cause he had kinda freaked us out with his outburst. What none of us realized is that the camera started rolling on the impact, and recorded the whole thing. This very footage was edited by the video crew, and used to show at the next game conference to build hype around C&C, and hence got him the role of Kane.

Footage is in the original trailer at 1:39 -

It was slowed down from actual speed.

XGDragon22 karma

Hi Frank. Your music is part of my childhood. I don't really have a question. I just wanted to say that.

rocktronic9 karma


NakedCrab20 karma

At what age did you first get into music? Also, favorite group/artist?

rocktronic34 karma

Well music's been in my family from birth. But the age I took genuine interest was 8 when I began to learn the drums.

Again, several favorite groups! Sly & the Family Stone, James Brown, Tower of Power, Graham Central Station, Metallica, Anthrax, Rob Zombie, AC/DC, Van Halen, VInce Dicola, Bob Schneider, Nine Inch Nails, E.S. Posthumus - I'm answering quickly, but I know theres more!

ub3rmenschen19 karma

As someone who likes the darker, moodier Tiberian Sun stuff as much of the rock n' roll carnage of your other work, what inspirations did you draw on for Tiberian Sun and what artists would you recommend to someone who loved your OST for that game?

Thanks for scoring my the RTSes of my childhood with badass music, btw :)

rocktronic32 karma

Well, of course I can't take total credit for Tiberian Sun, I worked on that with my friend Jarrid Mendelson. We each wrote half the tracks, and then co-wrote I think 5 of them together in the same room. Those 5 are among my personal favorites in the game because I think we did more experimentally cool stuff together as a team bouncing ideas off each other and recording riff after riff like clockwork. I don't recall listening to anything else in particular other than to just go for this cool moody post-apocalyptic vibe with synths that was different from all the other C&Cs.

In the new game End Of Nations, I have track in there called "Sludge" which is very much along the lines of the TS vibe with live orchestra incorporated.

Xacez17 karma

What franchise/game would be your dream to work on?

What are your thoughts on gaming soundtracks today, comparing it with ~15-20 years ago?

rocktronic49 karma

Dream to work on? Transformers. I really enjoy the War for Cybertron & Fall of Cybertron games and I would totally dig composing in the universe. And while I was at it, I'd bring in Vince Dicola too because he's the king of Transformers music in my book!

Game soundtracks today are of the same bar of quality as anything else, film , tv, or otherwise. Now with that said, the only thing that makes it special is the actual composition itself. So I find it few and far between that a soundtrack really gets my attention, because alot of them sound the same. And I think a lot of that has to do with people asking composers for the same types of cues over and over again. The typical hollywood action score. I'm a big advocate for creative freedom (within reason of course) and I appreciate much more when a composer is allowed to be more creative and give a personaility to a soundtrack. Its the reason any of my work has resonated with anyone. I was allowed to take chances throughout most of my career.

timix14 karma

I still remember the day our first digital soundcard arrived - the first video game music I ever heard on PC was the music in Dune 2. Still gives me shivers whenever I go back and play it again. Just wanted to say that.

As for a question - if I remember right, you were also credited for voice acting in Dune 2 - what samples did you provide for that game?

lilmul1237 karma

It's a shame this comment is so far down. He did the Harkonnen announcer voice in Dune 2. He reprised the role in Dune 2000, as well.

rocktronic6 karma

Indeed! ;)

TornadoTexan14 karma

I remember buying Red Alert 2 at Best Buy and as a bonus getting the soundtracks to C&C, Red Alert, Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2. I'm surprised the CD's didn't stop working from wear and still have the songs on my iPod.

Are there times when you listen to music and think "Why didn't I think of that?" or is it more a "I should work in similar elements into my next piece?"

In terms of other composers for video game franchises are there any that you'd really like to work with? any composers in general?

rocktronic16 karma

RA2 was a blast to work on.

As fas thinking "Why didn't I think of that?" or is it more a "I should work in similar elements into my next piece?" Can't say I ever look at it that way. I tend to live in the moment and if I try too hard is doesn't come naturally or doesnt meet my own expectation. There are perhaps cool sounds or instruments I hear in other songs or a cool rhtyhm and I'll make mental note of it and use it as an influence later, thats probably the closest methodology I have to your question.

As far as other composers go, see my answer to Walterion. ;)

notlurker13 karma

At what point in the development of games do the developer turn to you to start making music? Do they generally have an idea of what they're after or are you allowed to compose based on what you see?

rocktronic24 karma

I like to get involved early, when the first slices of gameplay or first level prototype is working well.

I like to set the stage for what the music will be early on and start composing right then, it's important to establish some original ideas early on and see what the team responds to or what kind of feel they might have initally, and then I take that and start fresh with the inital ideas and feedback to see what forms out of it. Then it's a gradual process of filling in the game as its made, and allows for more time to see how it can be improved or changed over time as the devlelopment continues. That is the luxury of being in-house. If you freelance, then generally you get called at the very end of the project and you have to rush a large amount of music out the door in a short amount of time.

Walterion12 karma

What is your inspiration for your music? Which other video game composers you like listen to?

Thanks for your time, love your work ever since CnC tiberium dawn.

rocktronic27 karma

I have multiple inspirations. Most notable throughout my career that are the big ones are John Williams, Vince Dicola, and Michael Kamen as far as film composers go. I listen to a ton of different bands and that has shaped my musical taste and style as a composer as well over the years. Other game composers I listen to are Jonathan vd Wijngaarden, Alexander Brandon, Jack Wall, Steve Burke, Wataru Hokoyama

RESERVA4212 karma

Did you write "I'm a Mechanical Man" on the original C&C soundtrack? That was one of my favorites.

rocktronic16 karma

Sure did. :)

the_killer66611 karma

A while back you released individual albums. Are you currently working on more individual albums or planning on that?

rocktronic16 karma

Yes! I just put an album up for pre-order that ships Nov 1st, the group name is "Face The Funk" and the album is called "Here At Last." It's all funk and its been a pet project of mine for several years, so I'm happy to finally release it. You can here samples of it here:

I have a couple other ones in the works on the way soon as well, stay tuned to my site and facebook / twitter pages for updates!

xelested11 karma

G'day, Frank, long time fan.

Back in the SNES/N64 days composers didn't have a lot to work with so they had to express themselves with less. I think this is the reason most classic VGM pieces come from that time period.

From my own experience I have noticed that many modern games don't bother with unique soundtracks and only use the generic orchestrals or metal music we have heard a thousand times before.

Of course exceptions exist. (An End Once and For All, Halo Theme, A Proper Story from Bastion, Ezio's Family from Assassin's Creed)

But these are exceptions. Not the rule.

I guess the question I'm trying to convey here is that, do you think the overall quality of soundtracks has gone down over time?

rocktronic21 karma

I love this question because I have really thought about this recently. When you have limitations, you have to be clever in thinking of ways to utilize whats availbale to you to its fullest capacity. I had to really push how my stuff sounded on the early PC games, and Sega Genesis and SNES to get it to a point where I found it acceptable. And in working with that melody and bass lines and how they counter each other becomes extremely important, and cleverly filling in the spaces in between to make it interesting, using mulitple instrument changes, tempo changes, and hand editing instruments to sound a certain way, using pitch and dynamics as much as you can, its challenging!

The thing now is because the quality is on par with everything else, the compositions themselves now has to be the thing that stands out. I always go back to why I think John Williams is a genius for orchestral music. You will always walk away with a memorable theme from him, vs the average orchestral score from someone else. So the only difference is the score itself, not the instrumentation. So bottom line, you just have to compose well to make an impact. I rememebr very clearly the themes from Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Harry Potter. I can't rattle off that many movies from a single other composer that I truly remember walking out of theater and humming the theme the next day.

lazydash11 karma

Thank you for such great music. I have listened to Hell March countless times ever since I first heard it so many years ago. Did you experiment with other voice samples for the song?

rocktronic26 karma

Thanks! No, I wrote it really fast and got everything in it straight away - one of those things that just came to me instantly, I knew what I wanted to do with it without question. :)

octopon10 karma

Is Tony still hitting on the hostess at Tony Roma's?

rocktronic14 karma

Tony replied "Is this Zach Galifianakis?"

nitramsaneco9 karma

Hello Frank, I really enjoy your work, mostly the older works like Legend of Kyrandia or Eye of the Beholder. Don't you miss old days sometimes, or does the "C&C kind of music" fit you better? Thanks and please, keep composing :)

rocktronic10 karma

Right on! :) The old days were cool and magical in their own way. I was so addicted to EOB2 I loved it. Kyrandia series was fun and very different from the norm. Creativity was allowed to thrive a bit more. We got to a point after a while where the industry expected everything to be a hit and had to follow a certain market because more money is at stake, etc. Though with more of the casual market on devices like the ipad and XBLA, it's kind of brought that old-school mentallity back again and allowed for simpler less expensive games that can still be just as fun and creative. As far as what fits me, that is wide open. I just happen to be known for the C&C vibe the most. I've been able to expand on my style and hybridization of live orchestra quite a bit in End of Nations, mixed with the contemporary edgy sensibilites that I have in my approach as a composer.

Scopster9 karma

Favorite LoL Champion?

rocktronic20 karma

I play Rise of Immortals ;) Favorite one of those is probably Ichor.

Xevic9 karma

What is your favorite video game? :D

rocktronic36 karma

Another tough question that merits multiple answers! Favorite classic 80s stand-up arcade game is 720 degrees. Favorite FPS is Unreal Tournament. Favorite RTS is a tie between C&C Yuris Revenge, C&C Firestorm, and Star Wars Empire At War. Love me some GTA IV too.

lavalampmaster8 karma

Unreal Tournament got me into shooters. I still fire that baby up occasionally. What do you think of that game's sountrack? It comes back to me far too often, probably because of the one menu track.

rocktronic6 karma

No secret, sound track is one of my favs!

Spinazania8 karma

What did you do during your education to get where you are now?

rocktronic16 karma

I was a professioanl performing musican at a very young age and starting composing and recording during hgih school, so I had a head start on forming what I wanted to do. I was in a very unique position to start in the game industry out of high school, the first platform I worked on was the NES! A far cry of whats required for games nowadays. I got to progress on the job as the technology advanced in PC and consoles. Education is absolutely necessary now before you do anything, and fortunatly there are much more college courses for audio now, and even full game development colleges which didn't exist when I got started.

One_Winged_Angel8 karma

Hey Frank, just wanted to begin by saying that I'm a massive fan of your work, especially on the C&C series.

I'd also like to say a big thanks to you on behalf of the C&C Renegade community and from all of us over at Bluehell Productions who are making free C&C FPS games for people to enjoy. :)

My question is, what's your favourite unit from the Red Alert universe and your favourite unit from the Tiberian Universe and which one do you think would win in a fight?

Ok that was technically three questions, but yeah. :p

You're awesome man; rock on! lml

rocktronic18 karma

Give my best to the community!

From RA, I like the Terror Drone, nasty little things!

From Tiberian, gotta go with the Commando. And he would win, cause hey, he's gotta present for ya.

wayward-drone8 karma

Don't have a question for you, but I love your music! I listen to a Spotify playlist on repeat at work:

I like a lot of your non-game music, as well. Thanks for all the good work you do!

rocktronic10 karma

Rock on!

nzlpablo8 karma

If/when they remake the Dune movie can you please please please do the soundtrack?

rocktronic12 karma

I'd be happy to! Be sure to drop me the director/producers phone #. ;)

ThePiousPriest7 karma

What is your opinion on the direction of the C&C series, particularly the musical direction? Have you ever considered working with other dev studios? You can make awesome music and kill puny infantry left handed, thanks for all your contributions.

rocktronic11 karma

I'm rather biased on this one. I'm just happy to do what I love at the end of the day. Thanks!

CognacTheBarbarian7 karma

"Oh my God, it's Frank Klepacki!" - Me, two minutes ago

No questions, I just wanted to say I love your compositions. Especially in the Command and Conquer series, I think I might have to dig out RA2 now.

rocktronic4 karma

Thank you!!

BigAssBob7 karma

Whats your favorite game soundtrack that you've had no involvement in?

rocktronic11 karma

The original Unreal Tournament.

isobane6 karma

I still pop on Hell March every once in a while and rock the fuck out. Thank you for that.

rocktronic3 karma

Me too! bangs head

Vice756 karma

When writing soundtracks for video games, what is the process? I mean do you just get told the theme and setting of a video game? Do play or get a preview at the game and what is going on?

Love your work.

rocktronic12 karma

Thank you!

Generally I get a preview of the game in its current state for an inital feel, I like to play it and see how the pace is, and get a sense of what the final result is intneded to be from the design and production team. Then it's about capturing the right personality and emotion to compliment the situations you are in, and potential theme assignments based on who you choose, or who youre fighting against, what location you're in etc.

Tyrannojesus6 karma

What is your favorite work of your own?

rocktronic14 karma

You mean from my solo albums?

Tyrannojesus4 karma

Yeah. Sorry, my bad.

rocktronic23 karma

Overall favorite album so far is Infiltrator, BUT, I have a new one coming soon!

CrabbyMcFartLice6 karma

One of my favourite things about you, Mr. Klepacki, is that when one starts looking into what you do, they quickly learn that you seemingly just make music all the time. You have a bunch of records on Spotify, and most of them aren't even from videogames. It's just you making music, for funsies. I think it's awesome that videogames alone can not contain your compulsion to make music, I like that, shows a passion.

What's your musical background, and what all do you play? And what do you listen to when you're not making music for or generally being the Audio Wizard for Petroglyph?

rocktronic4 karma

First of all, I'm laughing hysterically at your username!

Thank you for the kind words, indeed it is my passion, since forever.

There is a need for me to express in one area what I find I can't fit in somewhere else. So that drives me. I play drums, guitar, bass, keys, and sing. I listen to a bit of everything, what ever I'm in the mood for. Generally though, my casual listening usually finds its way to either funk, or metal.

sound16blast6 karma


rocktronic9 karma

Because thats where I work, and love it here ;)

Lpugh1875 karma

What are some influences that helped in your thought process as a composer? (Music Education Major Here)

rocktronic17 karma

How to get my brain to separate the sections / instruments melodies, counter-melodies and chords of a fully played piece. In orchestra rehearsal, the conductor often asks only trumpets play bar 9-16, only winds play bar x-x, etc. When you really listen when this happens, you get a clear picture of what makes the compostion you are playing work. That is one though process that is helpful.

Another is to write a piece with complete focus on only the bass line, and the melody. I find these to be the most essential bare bones to sketch out your idea with and then fill in the blanks later.

The mere sound of an instrument. We are so fortunate to be in an age where you can have a synthesizer in front of you and literally play any sound with it, rather than the old days of a composer with a piano and a feather pen. It's so easy to be instantly inspired by whatever instrument you happen to play a chord with as you switch between them, that you start writing to that sound immediately. Then dial up a new sound, write a new part. Maybe they don't go togther, but could be "made to" by coming up with a clever key change or transistion from one part to the next.

Bottom line, it has to "fit" the purpose its for. Composing freely has no rules, but if it's for a client or specific purpose, then you must focus on that emotion and make decisions on tempo, instrument choice, octave and key in order to compliment what is required.

Leave it alone, come back to it later. You can get to a point where you are no longer feeling the piece progress or you can't think of where to take it next. When that happens, save your work, get up, go do something else, even leave it til the next day, come back to it fresh.

QuotesOfTruth5 karma

I will ask you exactly what I asked Grant Kirkhope about his music. How, how did you know exactly what song to make fit perfectly with the game. Its as if Hell March would in fact be the song playing as I am opening the shutters for a Mammoth Tank to roll out.

Also Vector is a brilliant composition of sounds. You truly are a man who is good at what he does.

rocktronic9 karma

Thank you! You know I have to credit Brett Sperry, president of Westwood, with the decision to make Hell March the main theme for Red Alert. I knew it would be a cool battle theme, and originaly intended it for NOD before I was told that wasn't the subject matter of Red Alert. The meeting went something kind of like this:

Brett: "I hear you have something new to listen to for the next C&C game."

Frank: "Yeah I've got this cool aggressive theme I have in mind for NOD."

Brett: "We changed this to be before TD now, so it's allies vs. soviets."

Frank: "Oh, well maybe I should come up with something else.."

Brett: "No I want to hear what you have."

Frank: "Ok here it is.." plays Hell March

Brett: "Wow, Frank this is a powerful, beautiful song, does it have to be so hard rock though?"

Frank: "Thats kinda the idea behind it..."

Brett: "You know, I think this the main theme for our game."

Frank: "Really? Cool!"

Brett: "Can you give it another part that brings us out of the hard rock?"

Frank: "Sure, I'll let you know when it's done."
proceeds to write electronica version that follows the metal version

djbriandamage5 karma

Can you recommend any books that talk about audio production for video games? I read George Sanger's "The Fat Man on Game Audio" and it's one of the most fun books I ever read. I want to learn more!

ralphreyna5 karma

Best CnC Full Motion Video character? Also did you meet any of the actors?

rocktronic8 karma

Aw man, apples to oranges! Many great ones to choose from, but in the end, "KANE LIVES!"

VerySpecialForces5 karma

Thanks for all the great music! I'm currently using your tracks (primarily from Red Alert / Red Alert 2) to help my infant son go to sleep. (Makes it more enjoyable to play Hell March or Workmen than some generic lulliby.) Thanks again!

rocktronic7 karma

Nice! fast forward 20 years later - "You're son is doing great on the job, but for some reason he marches everywhere..." ;)

TheDirect5 karma

Do you get inspired by any games (that you worked on or not) to compose your solo projects?

rocktronic12 karma

My solo albums are generally a separate thing from the games, and it's more about writing cool tunes in the styles that enjoy, a lot of which happens to be in the rocktronic style I've zeroed in on with much of my C&C work in the past. BUT, now that you mention it...

The Morphscape album had a few early C&C inspired tracks, and I can say that my Infiltrator album would have been what I might have done with the RA3 soundtrack had I had the opportunity to do more tracks, I was working on it at the same time I was doing RA3, in the event that I would have been asked to contribute more. ;)

stordoff5 karma

Many thanks for your excellent work! I loved the C&C soundtracks (particularly RA1/2 and Yuri's Revenge), which lead me to find your other albums.

Is there anywhere online to buy lossless versions or CDs of your albums (in the UK)? I have MP3 versions of Virtual Control, Infiltrator and Viratia from eMusic, but would like to get a lossless version if possible.

(For anyone whose is interested, the MP3s sound fine, but I convert to 128AAC for my iPad which doesn't give a great result. Lossless to 128AAC usually sounds good enough)

rocktronic4 karma

Sure! There are cds available through my website store at and they should ship to the UK.

Black_Hand5 karma

ive always admired you for the way youve made sure that the soundtrack is supported by the game sounds. how it feels completely natural to hear the game sounds over your music (cant imagine act on instinct without machine guns). i was wondering if that is something you intentionaly put a lot of effort into or whether it comes naturally. and if you do indeed put a lot of effort into it, how exactly do you go about doing it? thanks

rocktronic12 karma

Thank you! I do have that in mind. WHen it came to the RTS games I worked on, I wanted to really feel the music reflect the fun I was having playing it. I refer to it as putting "adrenaline" in the soundtrack. It does also come naturally to me. In the early days of C&C it was more of an experiment, but as time went on, I zeroed in on what that feeling was for me and where I wanted to take it.

twiitar4 karma

Hey, no question but rather a big "thank you" for your great sound work on the C&C series. :)

The first money I've earned (age 10) went towards buying Red Alert. I've loved every aspect except for those darn ants that pestered my base.

rocktronic6 karma

Youre welcome! Glad you enjoyed it - I remember the ants! haha

Zaxim4 karma

Mr. Klepacki, do you own the rights to the game songs? Like, could you ever release a compilation album of your favorite CnC and RA tracks? I find it pretty hard to find all those great songs that either weren't released, or are on scratched and used CDs.

rocktronic5 karma

I dont control the rights to game soundtracks, the game publishers do.

unkemt4 karma

What was your favorite piece of kit to use to make music when you were composing for Westwood, and now? Thanks for this AMA!

rocktronic8 karma

AT Westwood I had all hardware synths, at Petroglyph I have all virtual instruments though I record live ones too. The one constant thing I've had both places is Cubase, and a guitar! My main hardware sampler toward the later years at Westwood I liked alot was the Akai S6000, and since I've been at Petro I use the software Kontakt!

KillerBeeTX4 karma

Frank, I am a HUGE fan of your music. Your music in the Westwood Studios days is timeless and the more orchestral stuff you are doing over a Petroglyph is beautiful and powerful, but still retains your signature sound.

When you begin composing music for a game, do you begin at the early stages of development using concept art and design documentation or is your process of creation more dependent on seeing a more finished game to see the tone, art direction and atmosphere?

When is the Home Cookin' reunion tour?

rocktronic5 karma

Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed my work!

I do like to start in the early stages to establish the styles and moods moving forward and take advtange of the time to crank out a quantity of material while focusing on the quality of it thorughout the course of development.

Home Cookin actually reunited last year and performed a handful of shows! I'm sure we'll do i again at some point. In the meantime, I just released a pre-order on my own funk album on my website if you haven't seen it yet, very much in that same spirit. ;)

Zenothist4 karma

Hello Frank,

On behalf of the Mentalmeisters, the development group for the Yuri's Revenge mod 'Mental Omega APYR', I'd like to thank you for the years of fantastic music you've provided devoted C&C fans and the inspiration your work has brought to us when modding the game.

On a more on-topic note, we know you well for your game music, but few are aware of your music projects outside of that business. As an absolute funk addict, I'd like to ask what we can expect from your next project, 'Face the Funk'? What influences will we be hearing on it?

Take care,

Zenothist, previously Alien55234

rocktronic3 karma

Sweet! Give a shout out from me to your mod team!

Face the Funk has sample clips on my site right now:

I'm very influenced by the old school funk on this one, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, Funkadelic, Al Green, Graham Central Station, Tower of Power, Kool & The Gang, The Bar Kays, Prince, D'Angleo

wombatski3 karma

No question Frank. Just an honest big thanks. Your heavy guitar sounds made me buy my own guitar. Rock on!

rocktronic8 karma


Sm3143 karma

How does it feel knowing that you have inspired thousands of gamer's with your music, to have touched the hearts of so many as it were?

Also I fucking love your music.

rocktronic5 karma

It feels great and extremely flattering. It makes what we do in the game industry even that much more rewarding and further validates the mediums impact on our culture. Thank you!

wahntwo3 karma

Still listen you your old original C&C and Red Alert Soundtracks when I play RTS games today. Awesome music with a beat to keep the neurons firing for battle. How did you achieve such awesomeness? (Softball Question)

3 Favorite Songs : Act on Instinct, Target, Hell March Thanks!!!

rocktronic3 karma

hehe, by continuing to learn, and write music like a madman for 20+ years I guess? Thanks!

DrHappyPants3 karma

Red Alert 1 is honestly the best game soundtrack I've ever heard after over a decade of video games. What is your favourite game soundtrack you've made so far?

rocktronic5 karma

End of Nations is some of my best work to date. :)

drl33t3 karma

What rom cards did you use on your Roland JV-880 for the soundtrack to Red Alert 2?

rocktronic4 karma

I dont think I used any rom cards, I think I just edited the sounds it came with.

If you mean the 2080, then I was using the dance, techno, session, hip hop, & orchestral cards

Ianuario3 karma

As an aspiring electronic music producer for games, I have another question: How did you start off as a gaming music composer/director/sound designer? Did you start by producing or just directing/composing? Was it an experience that started as a solo experience or a team effort? And, finally, was it because of any degree you took, contacts you made or just some opportunity you spotted?

rocktronic6 karma

I started my career as part of an audio team, and my primary role was composer, though this is where I began also learning about sound design and direction form my boss and colleagues, and would contirbute in those areas occasionally where I could or was asked to.

I became an offical audio director when I joined Petroglyph. That came from experience and motivation to continue to learn and excel at the different aspects of audio and how it is integrated into games technically.

sound16blast3 karma

Can we expect more tracks in End of Nations than we have seen in beta?

rocktronic6 karma

That depends - on whether you checked out JUKEBOX mode! ;)

bernardobri3 karma

Hi Frank, big fan of Westwood' Blade Runner. I blame the music greatly for that.

  • When you have to compose a song without visuals (as in, a BGM or a Main Theme), which method do you prefer to understand the vision by the author(s): Through lengthy descriptions, or just brief notes?

  • When working in a soundtrack, do you like having musical references (such as "check out that one blockbuster movie soundtrack or that music composer style") and work your own way from there, or do you like making the whole soundtrack from scratch?

  • Which kind of music genre do you think it hasn't been covered enough in videogames in the last ten years?

  • And lastly, what's the last movie you went to see in a theater? Did you like the soundtrack?

rocktronic12 karma

I loved working on Blade Runner. I'm a huge fan of the film soundtrack, and it was a fun challenge to recreate from scratch some of those signature themes apart from adding some of my own in.

Composing without visuals you gretly rely on descriptions, design documents, or a personal meeting with designers or producers to get a sense or sight some examples of what the desired feel should be.

A little of both on referncing and making from scratch. I like to take in the examples as influences and filter them through my compositions in my own way to see if I can make it my own or add something original to it to identify it with the project rather than emulate something directly.

Genre thats hasn't been covered, hmmm, well I'd like to see more melody come back above all else. and any unique approach is always nice to hear no matter the genre.

The last movie I saw in the theater where I enjoyed the soundtrack was The Avengers. I had to see who scored it at the end, and sure enough, Alan Silvestri - whos work I also love!

weatherseed3 karma

How has your career in composing music for video games translated over to your solo work? Have you experienced any discernible turnover between fans of your video game soundtracks and your solo albums?

By the way, loved Awakening of Aggression and Viratia.

::Edit:: What was your reaction to Westwood being acquired and then liquidated by EA?

rocktronic6 karma

My solo albums came about a beginning way to connect to my fan base from the gaming world thorugh the internet. I was pretty new to the internet and a bit of a late bloomer (when Red Alert came out, I still hadn't been on it yet, says right there in the credits of the soundtrack CD, lol)

So, during my time composing, I set up my own studio outside of work to work on my own stuff and record other bands. I massed a collection of songs I wrote at different times and when I had a solid 10 tracks, I thought why not put it out, start my own website, and reach out to the fans who had embraced my work and taken the time to write in to westwood to reach me. It was in fact a couple of key fans that guided me through the process of embracing the internet and showing me what was possible. When Morphscape was well recieved, it motivated me to continue. Also Ultimate Fighting Championship was an upcoming organization at the time and their audio director took interest in using my work for it, so that was another big motivator for me to continue as well. It's amazing how one thing can lead to other things you wouldnt have thought of.

The reaction to Westwood be aquired was actually very positive, we enjoyed a great run. When the consolidation happened however, it was a bummer naturally. We had a real bond there. But fortunatley Petroglyph rose from those ashes.

wookash3 karma

This has been bothering me for 20 years: was this Dune 2 track inspired by Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers"?

The first time I heard it, I went: "I can't believe someone's playing Dune 2 on the radio!!"

rocktronic3 karma

That just happens to be one of my favorite DP songs, so its quite possible!

ENKC2 karma

Wow, didn't see this AMA coming. I'm too late to the party for anyone to notice, but I love your stuff Mr Klepacki.

I got the Tiberian Sun limited edition when I was 12ish and some nights I'd put these enormous old headphones on and listen through the soundtrack CD. Loved Pharaotek especially. I haven't heard anyone else except Nile integrate Egyptian themes into modern music so expertly.

There was one song from that game with modem sounds that didn't make the CD for whatever reason. It was called Connect or Uplink or somesuch I think. If you're still here Frank, is there a story behind the creation of that one?

Oh, and that soundtrack to the original C&C elevated an important title in RTS history to a nostalgia-inducing juggernaut for me. 'Warfare' was my favourite, and probably a precursor to my love of metal discovered many years later.

I know I've seen people cover 'Warfare' on drums and guitar on YouTube, so that should tell you something of its lasting appeal.

Oh yeah, questions.

  1. Did you ever get to meet some of the actors like Joseph D. Kucan and James Earl Jones?
  2. Probably asked already, but Nod or GDI?
  3. Favourite weapon/unit from the series? Ion cannon? Mammoth Mk II perhaps?

Thank you for the memories and keep on doing what you do best.

p.s. I realise you've done stuff apart from C&C.

rocktronic7 karma

Hi there! You're not late, and due to the overwhelming response I'll be hangin out one more day!

If I recall, uplink was a trackfrom the expansion Firestorm and so it wouldnt have made the TS soundtrack cd. iTs a shame the expansions never got made into soundtracks, but then again most of them had redbook audio, meaning your could play the cd audio in a cd player from the game disc.

  1. Indeed! Joe Kucans office was only 2 away from mine, so I knew him well. James Early Jones was great.

  2. Nod all the way!

  3. Commando unit! ;)

oblong_cheese2 karma

I love your work in RA and RA2, I still listen to those soundtracks regularly.

The only "problem" with your music is that it is difficult to find similar artists! :-D

rocktronic7 karma